Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Tue May 18 04:33:43 UTC 2010

e-mail from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky last week, under the heading
  For a puzzling time
  Search for "very basilar".

OED2 has "basilar" (derived from "basis") in two senses:
  Of, pertaining to, or situated at the base, esp. at that of the skull. basilar membrane, spec. the membrane in the cochlea that bears the organ of Corti. 
  Of or belonging to a low moral nature or condition.

neither of which is relevant to the many examples i pull up for "very basilar", which all seem to mean 'basic, elementary'. the question is how people arrived at "basilar".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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